What is knee osteoarthritis?
Knee osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint condition. It is a “wear and tear” process involving the joint cartilage. As the wear process progresses it produces abnormal joint loading which in turn leads to the gradual onset of pain, deformity and loss of function.
What can cause it?
Many factors can contribute to knee osteoarthritis:
- Age. With increasing age the muscles which provide support to the joint weaken. This places greater forces across the joint and can accelerate the degenerative process leading to osteoarthritis.
- Weight. An increased body mass index places more stress across the joint and therefore can lead to osteoarthritis. Likewise in such situations, a joint replacement will loosen and fail quicker due to the increased forces placed across it.
- Pre-existing joint conditions. Conditions such as Rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and gout.
- Previous injury or surgery. A history of significant trauma. This may involve previous soft tissue or bony injuries. Previous extensive soft tissue or bony surgery can also lead to osteoarthritis.
- Lifestyle. Activities which frequently place large twisting loads across the knee can also cause osteoarthritis.
- Family history. Sometimes osteoarthritis can run in families.
- Gender. Osteoarthritis of the knee is slightly more common in females.